Nearly a quarter century ago Janet Steenberge told her husband Patrick that she wanted to start a swim team in Granbury.
“Janet said, ‘We’re going to live here a while and there’s no swim team. Let’s start one,’” Patrick said.
She did just that in the summer of 1990, and the Granbury SEALS were born.
Janet Steenberge is still the only head coach the SEALS have ever known. Among the alumni she has produced is none other than four-time Olympic gold medalist Dana Vollmer.
She and Vollmer were recently inducted into the Texas Amateur Athletic Federation Hall of Fame (TAAF). Last Saturday at Acton Baptist Church, a reception was held in Janet’s honor to commemorate the event.
Current and former SEALS and their families crowded the activity center, with balloons hanging from the basketball goals. Refreshments featured a range of goodies from pizza to assorted chocolates.
But everyone was there for one reason, their love of Janet. And many who could not be there sent their love in letters stacked so high they could not be held with even two hands.
“Steve Melbourne (Trophy Club coach and fellow TAAF Hall of Famer) said if you hang around long enough, you get recognized,” Janet said with a grin.
“We’ve been through a lot together, through being moms and not just coaches,” said SEALS swimmer/assistant coach and long-time friend Vicki Hamrick.
“Her love, her guiding spirit helped me through some of the most difficult times of my life.”
Former Granbury High swim coach Casey Pacheco, who swam and helped coach the SEALS while here, made the trek back from Abilene with his wife and family.
“Right away I felt I was in the presence of a legend,” he said of his first meeting Janet.
“Even now when I’m coaching I find myself thinking, I wonder what would Janet do?”
Under Janet’s tutelage, countless SEALS of all ages have gone on to compete at the TAAF Games of Texas, some on to college, and of course, even the Olympics.
“You hear how loving she is, but let me tell you she’s intense,” said Todd Garner, recalling his first time to practice in shackles.
“I was going up and down in the water, and she walks up, looks at me and says, ‘What’s your problem?’” he added with a grin.
Raven Chastain recalled eating many meals at the Steenberges prepared by Janet.
“When you know the Steenberges you’ll never go hungry,” she chuckled. “She was always in the kitchen.”
Several “full-circle SEALS” were also in attendance, swimmers who previously or still do swim with the team and now have children who do the same.
And with Janet having given no indication of retiring in the near future, their grandchildren may someday be getting instruction from her.
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